Flashes look to end season on high note in finale at Ohio


Senior wide receiver Tyshon Goode sets a block for Dri Archer during the game against Miami of Ohio on Wednesday, Nov. 13, 2013 at Dix Stadium. Photo by Jacob Byk.

Nick Shook

In a season that took a turn for the worse long ago, Kent State has a chance to finish it on a positive note.

The Flashes took the first step toward entering the offseason with some momentum Wednesday night when they controlled both sides of the ball and rolled over Miami in a 24-6 victory. The Senior Night triumph gave the Flashes’ elder members one final positive memory at Dix Stadium — something that Coach Paul Haynes was set on providing them in an otherwise disappointing 2013 campaign.

“They’ve meant a lot to Kent State through their four or five years here,” Haynes said. “With the season last year, a lot of those guys played a big part with the success we had last year, and they played a big part with the leadership of this year. I know it didn’t end up the way that we wanted, but kind of like Rosie (Nix) said, you’re going to forget about the record. You’re going to remember what happened in the locker room, you’re going to remember certain plays, the good times and the friends.”

Before the seniors become alumni and can only reminisce about their time together as Flashes, they have one more step left in their careers with the hopes of leaving the program on the upswing. That step comes Tuesday night when Kent State (3-8, 2-5 Mid-American Conference) travels to Athens (Ohio) to face Ohio (6-4, 3-3 MAC) at Peden Stadium.

Coming off the victory against Miami, the Flashes have plenty to be proud of in review of perhaps their most complete game since their win against Western Michigan in September. For a team that entered 2013 focused on establishing a ground game, they finally looked the part on Wednesday night.

The Flashes will face a much stingier opponent Tuesday when they take on the Bobcats in Kent State’s season finale. Ohio ranks sixth in the Mid-American Conference in rushing defense, third in total defense and has plenty to play for in its last two regular season games. After racing out to a 6-2 start, the Bobcats have lost their last two games to Buffalo and Bowling Green by a combined score of 79-3.

What: Kent State (3-8, 2-5 MAC) vs. Ohio (6-4, 3-3 MAC)

Where: Peden Stadium (Athens, Oh.)

When: 8 p.m.

Watch: ESPN2 (Adam Amin, Ray Bentley)

Listen: 640 WHLO (Ty Linder, Rob Polinsky, Matt Miller)

Q and A with The Post senior writer

Daily Kent Stater football writer Nick Shook caught up with The Post senior writer Christian Hoppens to learn the latest on an angry Bobcats team prior to Tuesday’s 8 p.m. kickoff on national television.

Nick Shook: Ohio started the season by winning six of its first eight games. Since then, the Bobcats have lost two straight, by large margins. What’s changed?

Christian Hoppens: Part of the issue has been injuries. The offensive line still hasn’t started the same combination of players in one game this season and the loss of sack leader DE Ty Branz to a season-ending knee certainly didn’t help matters. But what I’ve seen the last two weeks has been a bit of a lack of effort and execution. Ever since that blown safety call in the Buffalo game, they’ve let things snowball into a disastrous slide, which is typical of this team. When something bad happens, things fall apart, a la last season’s finish where they lost four of their last five.

NS: The usual leaders for OU returned this season in quarterback Tyler Tettleton and running back Beau Blankenship. But a quick peek at the statistics also show the emergence of wide receivers Donte Foster and Chase Cochran, who are each enjoying career-high years. Who has been the most important part of the Bobcats’ offense?

CH: The running game has struggled this season, in part because of the inconsistency on the offensive line, forcing Tettleton to drop back and sling it more. Donte Foster became the all-time leader in receiving touchdowns at Ohio this season and is Tettleton’s safety blanket, as he can come down with almost any pass thrown his way. Cochran has emerged this year mainly as a deep threat. He’s among the fastest receivers in the conference and his improved catching ability has made him a viable weapon and takes some coverage away from Foster.

NS: It seems like this Bobcats team is a upperclassmen-laden squad. Taking into account their experience, two of the MAC’s less-than-stellar opponents up next and the chance to lock up a bowl bid with a seventh win, do you expect Ohio to win out, split, or lose out?

CH: I think there’s a good chance they can take both games. Most of the players have said that they were angry after the BGSU game and that this was the best, most energetic week of practice they’ve had all season. I expect to see a hungry Ohio team that doesn’t want to let the legacy of this senior class to go down the drain. This group has earned more bowl game bids than the school in total before their arrival.

NS: Your prediction?

CH: The Bobcats bounce back. Ohio 30, Kent State 17.

Contact Nick Shook at [email protected].